Saturday, December 18, 2010

Nicole Cushing on Santa Claus Conquers the Martians

I am happy to have Nicole Cushing here with us contributing a piece. Nicole is the author of a story that holds it own among greats like Carlton Mellick III and Neil Gaiman in the recent John Skipp edited Werewolves and Shapeshifters anthology and of the New Bizarro Author Series book How to Eat Fried Furries that has been attracting a lot of attention and deserves all of it. She also bested me in sheer weirdness at this year's Ultimate Bizarro Showdown. I thought I could do offputting emotional terrorism but Nicole, as the Bionic Cow Pope, converted a lot of heathens that day. Here is her amazing, indepth sociopolitical analysis of Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.

The Martians Have A Dirty Bomb, And It's Name is Droppo by Nicole Cushing

In my book, How To Eat Fried Furries,one tale describes a mafia plot to assassinate Santa Claus. So you'll excuse the fact that I yawned at the comparatively-nonviolent kidnapping peril Saint Nick faces at the hands of Martian terrorists.
Truth be told, I yawned throughout the whole thing. I've seen this film before, in its incarnation as an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000. But this time, in the spirit of the Dollar Bin Massacre, I watched the unaltered version of the film I'd purchased from a genuine Dollar Bin about a year ago. And, yes, I lived to tell the tale (never before have Joel and the bots been so missed).
But,'s all too easy to take a look at this film and point out its flaws. The continuity errors (sometimes the Martians are green-skinned, other times they appear Caucasian). Use of military stock footage that even Ed Wood might declare gratuitous padding. Martians who look like bush-league rasslers wearing helmets adorned with spare parts from a 1962 Hoover vacuum cleaner.
But I come not to condemn this film, but to praise it. Yes, you read correctly. Praise it.
Maybe it only looks dreadful, superficially. What if we scratch the surface? Look a the subtext. Friends...I come to you today prepared to re-write the history of film criticism by announcing the discovery of an entire new interpretation of Santa Claus Versus The Martians; an interpretation based on an appreciation for a deep, hiterto-ungrasped symbolism.
Moreover, I proffer this thesis: Santa Claus Versus The Martians is not only a film rich in symbolism, but it also is a magic film; influenced by the Ghost of Nostradamus, which foretells the outcome of Iran's grab for nuclear weapons.
Think I'm psychotic? Funny. The five-trunked topiary elephant said the same thing. In Portugese. But before you label me “mad” or even “a little strange”...consider the merits of my argument.
To whit – consider the players...
The Earth children (Betty and Billy Foster) who enjoy material abundance, television, and freedom of thought because they have Santa Claus. Symbolically, these are the Americans and/or the state of Israel.
Santa Claus, who flies through the sky in a sleigh rumored to run on rocket fuel, who delivers material abundance to those who bessech his favor. Who lives in a frozen, desolate wasteland of eternal (read: “nuclear”) winter. Symbolically, Santa represents nuclear weapons.
The Martians, who look “different” and are dressed all alike, must (according to dominant cultural norms and prejudices in the U.S.) represent foreigners. But not just any foreigners. The hard-liners in Martian society (Voldar) as well as the non-hardline, devoutly religious (Chochem) wear facial hair, while more-or-less secular moderates (Kimar) are clean-shaven.
Therefore, the Martians are symbolically, the Islamic Republic of Iran, circa 2010. Given this interpretation of the film, what can we predict about the future?
Well, we know that there will be a Martian (Iranian) grab for Western (Earth) nuclear secrets (Santa). We know that, in fact, the Martians will obtain Santa, and reverse-engineer their own, slightly bastardized version, Droppo (a dirty bomb). However, we also know that, in the end, the Iranian hardliners will be toppled by a coalition of pro-Western forces (Billy & Betty) and Iranian moderates (Kimar) who employ a surgical air strike (barrage of bubbles, ping-pong balls, and model airplanes) to effect a regime change. Droppo (the dirty bomb) stays on Mars, but only under the “benevolent”, pro-Western (read: corrupt puppet) dictator Kimar (second coming of the Shah).
And now everyone has nuclear weapons! How's that for a happy ending, kids!

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